Frequently Asked Questions About Volunteering


Banner: Volunteer FAQ

 

What volunteer opportunities are available?

What are the benefits of volunteering?

What are the requirements to be on the volunteer staff?

How can I get started?

I want to volunteer but I have a hectic schedule. What can I do?

I want to volunteer, but I have limited mobility. What can I do?

Do you have any volunteer opportunities on weekends?

What volunteer opportunities take place on weekdays?

Can I just show up at a general restoration volunteer day?

What do I bring to a volunteer day?

What do I wear for a volunteer day?

What if I cannot stay for the entire volunteer day?

Can I bring my kids with me to a volunteer day?

Can I bring my class/scout troop/business team/other group to Midewin for a volunteer day?

Can I bring my pets to a volunteer day?

Can I earn volunteer hours that are required by either school or community service?

Do you have any offsite or from-home volunteering positions?

Do you have housing available for volunteers?

What career opportunities or paid internships are available?

How do I get to Midewin?

Do you still have a question that was not covered above?

 

What volunteer opportunities are available?

A description is available for each position on the main volunteer webpage.

Department/opportunities include:

  • Restoration (variety of work based on season – includes planting, invasive control and seed harvest)
  • Ecological monitor (bird, butterfly, frog, rare plants (a Chicago Botanic Gardens program), stream quality, stream invertebrates, vegetation)
  • Education/Outreach (encompasses youth educators and tour guides)
  • Trail Steward

 

What are the benefits of volunteering?

  • You are part of a team which is restoring prairie habitat to the ‘Prairie State’!
  • Volunteering is a fun recreational activity and can be very therapeutic.
  • Several activities are appropriate for families and individuals of all ages to work together.
  • Volunteer work will boost your resume and may give you an edge over other candidates.
  • Midewin’s volunteer staff receives ongoing recognition from their supervisor and other staff.
  • Volunteers that contribute 15 or more hours are invited to an annual volunteer recognition banquet in November.
  • Midewin’s volunteer staff receives the bimonthly Prairie Telegraph. 
  • Volunteers may be featured in the Telegraph, newspaper articles and/or US Forest Service success stories.
  • Awards can be received for outstanding, innovative and/or long term, core volunteers.

 

What are the requirements to be on the volunteer staff?

Please refer to each position description of interest because requirements vary. Feel free to contact the volunteer coordinator, Allison Cisneros, at 815.423.2149 or  amcisneros@fs.fed.us to find a good fit for you.

 

How can I get started?

Please complete the volunteer interest inquiry.

If you are still deciding on which opportunity to try first, a great way to get introduced to Midewin is to attend a general restoration volunteer day.  Please see the Meadowlark newsletter for volunteer days highlighted in green.

Before starting your first program or volunteer day you must read, sign and turn in the Midewin Volunteer Paperwork (see links at the top of this webpage).  This includes the Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) signature form stating that you understand there are safety issues related to each activity.   

 

I want to volunteer but I have a hectic schedule. What can I do?

General restoration volunteer days are a one-time commitment and you can sign up only 2 days in advance, so they are perfect for those with a changing schedule. Ecological monitoring for birds, butterflies and frogs can also be done independently on your own schedule, as long as you are able to attend the training or meet with the volunteer coordinator before the season begins (around March/April).

 

I want to volunteer, but I have limited mobility. What can I do?

Certain activities such as seed cleaning, seed harvest and planting plug trays are recommended.  There are also occasional administrative activities such as folding trail maps, data entry or writing articles.  Knowing accessibility needs ahead of time may give us a chance to make arrangements for other activities.

Please contact the volunteer coordinator, Allison Cisneros at 815.423.2149 or amcisneros@fs.fed.us for more information.

 

Do you have any volunteer opportunities on weekends?

If you are only available on weekends, please look at descriptions for:

  • Restoration assistant for special Saturday events 
  • Interpreter (tour guide)
  • Ecological monitor (bird, butterfly, frog, RiverWatch or water quality)

 

What volunteer opportunities take place on weekdays?

If you are only available on weekdays, please look at descriptions for:

  • Restoration assistant (Thursdays)
  • Interpreter (tour guide) or youth educator
  • Any ecological monitor opportunity
  • Trail steward 

Can I just show up at a general restoration volunteer day?

Yes, however this is not recommended. Knowing how many volunteers will attend a workday allows Midewin staff to better organize tools and safety gear. It is also important for us to be able to inform you of any changes or cancellations. 

 

What should I bring to a volunteer day?

If you are a new volunteer make sure to bring your signed volunteer agreement and photo release.  Midewin will provide tools, safety gear, first aid and water.  Please bring your own water bottle and lunch. We recommend bringing your own sunscreen and insect repellant.  A camera or binoculars are optional. 

 

What should I wear for a volunteer day?

Be aware of the weather forecast for this area. To see current conditions at Midewin, please visit our Weather Station. We recommend wearing layered clothing including long pants, long sleeves, field boots and a hat.  Dress comfortably and in clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. Some volunteers occasionally continue working in very light rain, so have a rain coat handy if you choose.

 

What if I cannot stay for the entire volunteer day?

Please let the volunteer coordinator know this ahead of time. Not all volunteer days take place at the meeting location, so volunteers will caravan to the worksite. Some volunteer days take place in locked areas and it is more difficult to accommodate different schedules. But, please do not hesitate to ask.

 

Can I bring my kids with me to a workday?

Yes, we strongly encourage you to bring your children to a volunteer day. There’s no better outdoor classroom than Midewin to teach kids (or adults) about Illinois prairies. We do require that children 16 years or younger be accompanied and supervised by an adult chaperone during the entire workday. There may be activities with a minimum age requirement and if this is the case we will bring this to your attention and may invite you to participate in a more age-appropriate activity.

 

Can I bring my class/scout troop/business team/other group to Midewin for a volunteer day?

Yes, Midewin strongly encourages your group to participate in a volunteer day any time of the year. Large groups may require up to a month notice for proper coordination. Depending on the size, age and nature of the group, not all volunteer days may be appropriate, so please contact the volunteer coordinator, Allison Cisneros, at 815.423.2149 or amcisneros@fs.fed.us for more information.

 

Can I bring my pets to a volunteer day?

No, pets are not allowed to join volunteer days unless it is a service animal. However, you are welcome to walk your dog any other time on Midewin’s trails. You must keep a maximum 8-foot leash on your dog and stay on the trail.

 

Can I earn volunteer hours for community service that is required by either school or court?

If you need to fulfill community volunteer service hours, you are welcome to participate in any of Midewin's scheduled general restoration volunteer days. Please see the Meadowlark newsletter for days highlighted in green. You must provide the volunteer day leader with any required paperwork to verify you were present and earned service hours.

 

Do you have any offsite or from-home volunteering positions?

Not at this time.

 

Do you have housing available for volunteers?

Not at this time.

For U.S. Forest Service opportunities that may provide housing (such as a campground host) please visit www.volunteer.gov/gov.

 

What career opportunities or paid internships are available?

For more information or to apply for federal employment please visit  http://www.usajobs.gov/.

Also consider that relevant volunteer work can boost your resume and may give you an edge over other candidates.

 

How do I get to Midewin?

Please verify the meeting location and see Directions.

 

Do you still have a question that was not covered above?

Please contact the volunteer coordinator, Allison Cisneros at 815.423.2149 or amcisneros@fs.fed.us for more information.  





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